Dear Parent of an UnPotty Trained Child

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medium-dot-com-the-potty-schoolThis post originally appeared on on 11/7/16


Dear parent of an "unpotty trained" child, 

Dear Parent of an UnPotty Trained Child The Potty School

From all directions you are hearing that your child needs to be potty soon as...yesterday. Your Grandmother tells you that all 7 of her kids were potty trained simply by using a kitchen pot, and stopped using diapers by the time they were one. In fact, in the 50's 92% of children were potty trained by 18-months of age* (NY Times, 1999).Your mother-in-law tells you how "it's easier to have a potty trained child than a diapered child" and points a finger at the financial and ecological cost of diapering as well. These things make you want to, well, gag...and more than that, they make you want to just get this potty training thing done...this weekend...right now... I'm here to say that I'm glad you want to potty train, but just a second.

What I DO NOT ENCOURAGE you to do:


(1) I do NOT encourage you to start potty training the minute you finish reading this article

Just as if you were to conduct a surgery for the first time, you'd want a plan laid out. It would be reckless to just try and "see how it goes", and potentially damaging as well. Discuss with your co-parent ahead of time and come up with an agreed upon approach and start date. Even if it's just an outline of a pottying plan, you need something to be the core features of the process.

(2) I do NOT encourage you to wait until right before an important milestone to starting potty training

Can you imagine the pressure your child would sense from you if 3-days before pre-school you decided that the diaper he has been wearing for 3 1/2 years is going to get taken away from him? For some kids, it's as emotionally traumatizing as if you threw their beloved blankie in the trash right before their eyes...with a smile on your face. There are plenty of ways you as a parent can help your child be potty training ready by a vacation, holiday, or preschool entrance, without needing to conduct a bootcamp just before the actual event takes place. Relieve the pressure and start a few weeks, if not months, ahead of time. Afterall, for generations people have started, and finished, earlier than the average completion ages of 35-months for girls and 39-months for boys, in the U.S. **


(1) I DO encourage you to view potty training as a milestone

For a milestone such as walking it is expected that first a child will learn to stand, to crawl and even to walk along things before they take those first few steps on their own. The pottying process is similar, there are things to learn before your child becomes potty independent. It doesn't mean the pottying process needs to be put off because of these factors, it just means that there's an order to the parts that make this milestone achievable.
Potty training builds self-mastery skills and banks on a child's "I do!" enthusiasm. It's a huge rite of passage for our littles, and you as the parent get to be their biggest fan! 

(2) I DO encourage you to have a support system in place before you start

There's nothing worse than getting to the middle of a process, getting stuck and realizing you need to stop everything in order to just find someone who has experience and can guide you. Seek out a support person who knows the process, and who isn't just winging it.
Kids thrive off of predictability. That said, be prepared to tell your child what the game plan is. For some children who are old enough, potty training may already be a sore subject. They may be old enough to have an aversion to the idea of it, and it may be a bit of a battle of the wills. This doesn't need to be a breaking point in your relationship. Focus on the task at hand, but even more importantly, focus on your child's overall demeanor. Maybe more than another potty reminder, your child just needs a loving hug.

That being said...

Regardless of how potty training is going, your ultimate goal is to show your child that s/he is genuinely loved. But, as the parent, you also have a a delightful job to teach your child new skills, but with that comes responsibility. You don't need to stand over your child in the bathroom and remind them why they're there for the 8-millionth time. If you're following a made-for-you The Potty School customized Pottying Plan, your child will already fully know why they are there, and will actually often just need some space to execute what you've taught them through the process so far.
You are going to want (1) an understanding of the pottying process, whether it be Elimination Communication (0-18 months), or Potty Training (18+ months) and (2) troubleshooting support. We'd love to develop a Pottying Plan for your family. The Potty School's Pottying Plan is a DIY plan that gives you the framework necessary to start, journey through, and complete your child's process, on your own. You'll take a quiz and then a plan will be developed based on your answers.
For those who want more individual, customized, interactive help and instructional videos - based on your more in-depth family preferences, lifestyle analysis and Q&As via email and a phone consult, we can create a POTTYING PACKAGE, which also includes the Pottying Plan.
Remember that pottying is a process. It takes patience, love and direction. But, when you journey through the process and see those "I do" smiles of accomplishment and those undies happily pulled up all the way to their belly-buttons, you can't help but be grateful you got to be part of the process, and feel a huge sense of accomplishment knowing that their healthy pottying habits will benefit them for a lifetime.
Honored to join you on your pottying journey, 
Michelle, Founder of The Potty School
Mama of 3 littles


  1. NY Times. Two Experts Do Battle Over Potty Training, Goode,
  2. Potty Training Seven Surprising Facts. Davis.
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